Part One of this article proposes policy ideas covering electoral reform, criminal justice, the economy and immigration.
5] Housing Policy
Quite simply, given the dire position which successive, élitist Governments have subjected the country to with the pressures from mass uncontrolled immigration, we now need an enormous programme of house building, both by Councils and by private developers.
Can’t afford it ? How could a much poorer country afford a similar programme after WWII ? If the political will is there to do it it can be done. And the solidly built, sizeable, council houses of that epoch are proof thereof. Unapologetically UKIP needs to ‘go back to the Future’ and claim inspiration from the postwar council house building programme which benefited so many people. Provided we get a grip intellectually this could be done again.
However it is an essential prerequisite to such a policy that there be a simple halt called to all new immigration ( and a firm programme of expulsion of persons here illegally) otherwise building new houses achieves no more than pouring water into a badly holed bucket.
Massively more houses being built will require sacrifice : it cannot be done painlessly and it is silly to claim it can all be done on brownfield sites.Of course these latter must be used to the maximum and I would argue more imaginatively by encouraging new housing of three and four storeys – but with generously proportioned room sizes. Bring back the Parker Morris standards so stupidly abolished in the 1980s by Mrs Thatcher, and whose abolishment has given us rabbit hutch houses and flats – the tiniest in the developed world probably ) .
But there will need to be an honest acknowledgement by UKIP that given the dire lack of affordable housing, particularly in southern England, some limited sacrifice of green belt land will almost certainly be needed in addition to building on brownfield sites. I believe people will accept that sacrifice provided they see an end in sight to it.
The Government could set specific house number targets for specific local authority areas ( in consultation of course with those local authorities, elected fairly under UKIP’s preferred system of Proportional Representation ) and then subsidise as necessary the construction of the requisite number of houses and flats. There could be a mix of housing for sale, rented council housing and housing with shared ownership ( all mixed in together, not on separate ‘estates’ ). But the skewed priority of huge discounts giving windfall profits to lucky individuals should cease. The priority needs to be decent housing for desperate people, not private enrichment.
This needs to be much more imaginative than ‘ A grammar school in every town ‘. Whilst the absurdity of mixed ability classes needs to end (wherever it persists, if indeed it does persist) and low expectations of working class children need to be shamed out of existence, and some, marvelous schools have achieved this in poor areas, general selection at 11 is not, in my view, the most imaginative response.
I would suggest why not copy from the public school system which has served the children of the rich so well ? If it’s good enough for the children of the rich… then UKIP wants the same opportunities for all children. Thus encourage state funded primary ( ‘Prep Schools’ ) to teach children to age 13, not 11, and then transfer pupils to Colleges for 14 to 18 year olds.
There could indeed be, from age 14, intensely academic grammar streams within the local Colleges for those who have shown the aptitude for such. Or perhaps separate Grammar School buildings if local Councils ( elected under PR ) preferred. But there would be equal resources devoted to the education of the less academically inclined.
As regards the Preparatory Schools, these should concentrate on the building blocks basics of all effective education : namely English, including rigorous attention to grammar and spelling, a Foreign Language, Maths, and Science.
I would also argue that before age 13 ALL pupils should have the opportunity of at least one year’s basic Latin tuition, and also have the opportunity to learn musical notation and at least basic playing of an instrument. (Of course this would need an expansion in the numbers of teachers of these precious subjects, but still, the direction of travel can be indicated.)
The above still leaves curriculum room for more generalist lessons in the non-core subjects. The concept should be of education for LIFE, including cultural enrichment, not just the economic needs of society and skills for work, important as these are.People do develop aptitudes and interests at different ages ( adults as well as children ) and persons should be given every encouragement to return to educational opportunities, if so desired, as working adults, not just in childhood.
7] University Education
This needs a different, more imaginative, funding model. Many, perhaps most, of the current student ‘loans’ will probably never actually be repaid and will be written off at some time. This is even more so in the case of EU students against whom these loan repayments can never, in practice, be enforced.
UKIP’s proposal should be that intending students should be encouraged to work for wages for at least two years after A Levels / Aged 18 exams before entering University (so the general starting age for University should trend towards 20 / 21 not 18/19). This could be incentivised by offering partial grants to intending undergraduates who had contributed to the system by paying tax and national insurance for at least two years ( indeed the grant could be proportionate to the number of years’ contributions).
Too many students just automatically ‘escalate ‘ from 6th Form to University studies without really investigating whether such studies are what would be best for them, whether in the general educational sense, or in terms of job opportunities. UKIP should advocate that two or three years of hardscrabble work experience ( in any job ) before higher education would benefit the individuals concerned as well as society, and that therefore the grants system should be re-crafted to facilitate and encourage this.
The grants could be for Tuition Fees only, not maintenance, (and perhaps for certain subjects only), but this would mean that Undergraduates who chose to study at a University to which they could commute from home would have the prospect of being nearly debt free on Graduation Day, especially if they had made some modest savings from their two or three years’ work after school.
8] Cultural Policy (Last, but as you will see, certainly not least in my estimation)
UKIP should craft an imaginative cultural policy, designed especially to widen cultural horizons to include artistic, cultural, and entertainment programmes produced by other European countries in foreign languages. One of the shaming aspects of UK society is how few people speak any foreign language at any level ( and the numbers taking A levels in languages have been in freefall for years ). Additionally, almost the only non UK produced programmes broadcast, even on multiple channel TV, are those made in the USA.
France, Italy, Spain and Germany all of course have their own equivalents of our BBCs 2, 3, 4, and Channel 4 with remits to show culturally enriching, as well as entertainment and offbeat programmes. France and Germany already co-operate in the production of a bilingual channel ‘ARTE’ which you can watch in German or French, with or without subtitles.
It should be possible (and UKIP should advocate) for the UK to negotiate a free of cost reciprocal exchange of these programmes, so that we could have some of our unused Freeview channels dedicated to programmes in French, Spanish, German and Italian respectively. Yes there would be some expense providing subtitles but, hey, there’s plenty of savings to be made from the BBC’s currently inflated budget and salaries.
Watching TV programmes or films in a non~English language on a regular basis is hugely helpful to the acquisition of a language, quite apart from the general enrichment derived from taking in a different perspective.
All cultural organizations such as Opera houses and Theatres which receive substantial subsidies should be required to make most if not all of their productions available to all schools for free, in similar manner to how these are currently broadcast to some cinemas (but for payment by persons attending).
These organizations could also be required to produce ‘Teachers’ Notes’ for these productions to facilitate their use in classes which studied the works involved. Of course school trips to the National Theatre / Royal Shakespeare Company / Opera and so on should continue to be encouraged, but ‘the best should not be enemy of the good’ and any extension of cultural experiences, particularly for those who simply cannot afford the cost of school trips, should be welcomed.
These are just more Policies whereby, if adopted, UKIP could become known for its distinctiveness and imagination on the political scene. Constructive comments welcome below, of course.